Federal Grants for Schooling Over 55-Year-Olds

by Caroline Adams
Education doesn't have to end just because you are older.

Furthering your education can give you a new view of life and possibly a new career. Taking some specific courses now may enhance your existing career and help move you towards a promotion. If you are over age 55, a college education is still an option because many grants and scholarships are available for the older, nontraditional student.

Educational Grants 101

Grants come in all amounts and from many different sources, including the federal government. Grants can also come from state funding, colleges and universities, organizations and private funding. Each organization offering a grant has eligibility criteria. Grants differ from school loans because they are free and require no repayment. Grants can be student-specific, subject-specific, degree level specific or minority specific.

Pell Grant

The Pell Grant, in existence since 1972, is the largest source of educational funding. It is a federal grant program providing millions to impoverished students of all ages. To be eligible, you must show financial need.

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Academic Competitiveness (AC)

The Academic Competitiveness Grant (AC) is available to all incoming freshman and sophomores of all ages who have demonstrated an aptitude for leadership and service. This is a grant that many 55-year-olds who have done volunteer work could be qualified to receive. Service work such as scouts, PTA and other volunteer organization work would demonstrate ability and desire to provide community service. Qualifying candidates must also be Pell Grant-eligible.

Nontraditional Grants

The nontraditional student, especially older or working, poses a challenge to colleges and universities. However, new concepts of what a college should look like have evolved. Online schools and courses have helped address the needs of the nontraditional student. There are special grants for individuals returning to school to further their education and careers. Grants for women and minorities, as well as grants for specific career development, are also available. The Pell Grant is still an available and important option for the nontraditional student.

About the Author

Caroline Adams has been a professional writer and educator since 1980. She has published articles on health-care risk management and continuing education for health-care professionals. Her credentials include a nursing degree, a B.A. in pre-law, a M.A. in health-care law and a M.Ed. from DePaul University. She has taught at several colleges and universities in the Midwest including the University of Illinois and DePaul University.

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